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A headfirst dive – between pleasure and urgency

A note from the artistic directors

  • 02.11 — 30.11 2022

At Alkantara, we often meet artists — at different times, in different contexts, in different cities — who challenge us to rethink our way of being in the world. Artists who share our preoccupations and with whom we can imagine new ways of working. In their pieces, we recognise arguments and questions that are essential to building new futures — futures that are different to the ones imposed on us.

Alkantara Festival is the celebratory moment in which we share these encounters openly with everyone who wishes to join us. At Alkantara Festival 2022, between 11 and 27 November, we bring together artists, performers, activists, choirs, revellers, clubbers, DJs, technical and production teams, scientists, and guardians of rivers and forests, so that together we can continue amplifying and multiplying our perspectives.

These people will form a temporary community that invites us to see their shows in different spaces, to walk along the river, to dance in club nights that act as sites of celebration and resistance, and to take part in talks and conferences.

Throughout the festival it will be possible to follow many paths, beginning from different movements, elements and perspectives.

We start from a vantage point high up on scaffolding, from where we can watch an opera that takes place on the artificial beach of Sun & Sea. Here, between day-to-day stories, we hear a teenager sing about not being able to sleep after finding out that the Great Barrier Reef will disappear in the coming years. Also connected to water, Natural Contract Lab consists of a walk and forum to be held next to the Tejo river, in which we will practice strategies of care and attention that will help to preserve the river. Back on stage, in Out of the Blue, Silke Huysmans and Hannes Dereere dive to the bottom of the sea to show us how today’s deep sea mining industry may destroy ecosystems we know little about. Between a jump and a dive, Betty Tchomanga confronts us with her Mami Wata, a siren who is revered and feared in African and Afrodiasporic cultures. Back on the sand, Ana Pi welcomes us to the altar she has dedicated to Maya Deren and Katharine Dunham, with whom she holds a dialogue that passes through ancient gestures, reimagining the past and what is yet to come.

Having dived into the sea and walked along the river, we now take a trip to the forests. In Free Reforesting School, the Terra Batida network invites us to learn about the fragility of ecosystems, monoculture practices, and the environmental tragedies and crises caused by fires, as well as possible ideas for regeneration. Also in the spirit of rejecting monocultural ideas and fixed identities, Cade & MacAskill give us a queer perspective on the creation of Pinocchio, showing us an alternative idea of what it means to be a real boy. Thinking of the choices we make so that we can truly live, Hooman Sharifi brings together a group of dancers from Iran to reflect on the theme of sacrifice using movement, dance and the body. And it was via dance and music, specifically Kuduro, that Gio Lourenço found a way of relating to Angola from a position in Portugal. The theme of the Afrodiaspora in Portugal is also present in Afropolitana, a club night curated by DIDI that celebrates artistic and cultural expressions of the African diaspora.

Exploring memory and personal history,Ana Borralho and João Galante invite us to look at their 20 years of life story and joint artistic work. Another duo who have long worked together, Sofia Dias and Vítor Roriz, now expand their pair into a quartet, inviting another duo,Filiz Sızanlı and Mustafa Kaplan, to join them in thinking about similarity and difference. Jaha KooJaha Koo, with his rice cookers, leads us through his memories of two decades of crisis and death in South Korea, as he reflects on the idea of happiness.

On the subject of pleasure and confrontation, our minds turn to Vânia Doutel Vaz and her piece Elephant in the Room, in which she summons possibilities and multiplicities to disorientate us. The pleasure of dance is also the medium for Marlene Monteiro Freitas and the dance company Dançando com a Diferença, as they place us in a kind of party where one dances until exhaustion. Which brings us back to the start, with Pira, a party run by Núcleo MeioFio, who, on the opening night of the festival, will provide a celebration of endings and beginnings, in which we can all dance together.

These are some of the paths available, and over the coming weeks we invite you to walk your own and dance with us, so that together we can explore our idea of the future.

David Cabecinha

Co-Artistic Director, with Carla Nobre Sousa

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